Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, June 02, 2014

Cultural Mysogyny

"I strangled her. I liked Farzana since she was a child."
"When Farzana was killed, I fell on her body. "But they pulled me off and started beating her body and her face with their shoes."
"[Muhammad Iqbal said his wife’s family was still threatening him.] "They say they will kill me and remove her body from the grave and burn it".
Muhammad Iqbal, grieving husband of Farzana Parveen, Faisalabad, Lahore, Pakistan
Ayesha Bibi was the name of Muhammad Iqbal's first wife. She bore him five children, more than adequately performing her duty as a pious, obedient Muslim wife. But his eye was taken by a girl, little more than a child, and he dispensed with his wife. Under Sharia, men of substance are able to have more than one wife. Clearly, Muhammed Iqbal wanted only one and when the girl on whom he had his eye matured he courted her.

But only after he had become single and eligible though her parents were eager to sell her to the highest bidder.

When the fact that Mr. Iqbal had once been arrested for murder -- but then charges dropped because he had paid blood money to escape punishment (to replenish his honour) to the family of the woman he had murdered, his very wife -- became public, revealed during the murder investigation of his second wife, it was hard to believe. But Aurang Zeb, the oldest of his five children said his father killed his mother in 2009; that his father was arrested but the children forgave him.

"We don't want to discuss whatever had happened in the past, but I confirm that we had forgiven our father Iqbal", said Mr. Zeb.The later second wife whose death he now sincerely grieves, was pregnant with her first child by him. She was set upon by her own family members in broad daylight in a busy thoroughfare outside the Lahore High Court to plea a case they had lodged in defence of charges brought by her family that Mr. Iqbal had abducted Farzana Parveen.

She died on Tuesday as she walked with her husband from their lawyer's office to the Lahore High Court to render a statement testifying that she had married Mr. Iqbal in free will. As they strode toward the court, they were surrounded by a crowd of men from her family village led by her father, two brothers and other relatives. A gun was fired, the bullet grazing her ankle. Her father Azeem, struck her with a brick he had taken from the road.

Her brother Zahid, and a cousin joined in the attack, her husband later recounted. "When Farzana was killed, I fell on her body. But they pulled me off and started beating her body and her face with their shoes. They say they will kill me and remove her body from the grave and burn it", he said in an interview. Her father Muhammad Azeem was arrested soon after the attack that killed his daughter, and he stated his lack of repentance in restoring family 'honour'.

The chief minister of Punjab province has ordered police to make certain the suspects face justice speedily. International embarrassment merits that kind of swift response.

After Mr. Iqbal had murdered his first wife, he hid from justice. And the very place where he stayed was with Ms. Parveen's family, until his arrest in April 2013, after the 2009 murder. Charged with that murder, blood money forgave him. This is the manner in which Sharia law makes murder of a woman a trifling matter and soothes the grief of family members.

He earned the ill graces of Parveen's family when he asked for her hand in marriage. The transaction was carried through with Mr. Iqbal agreeing to pay $800 in exchange for a dowry. When the family demanded more money, he objected and they never did come to an acceptable agreement between the family and Mr. Iqbal.

But Ms. Parveen was happy to marry Mr. Iqbal and they did just that, though her family informed police she had been married to a cousin, and Mr. Iqbal had kidnapped her.

Bizarre, Byzantine, and sad beyond belief that women in societies such as this are disposal objects taken in trade whose lives are firmly attached to those of the males in their family, while the women are denied free will and social equality, owned in essence by their fathers, their brothers, their uncles, their husbands.

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